Info Text

If you really want to get in the weeds with your Carnegie Collection models, take a close look at their info text and mold lines.

There are two basic varieties of embossed info text - the model and manufacturer's info, usually embossed into the belly or side and part of the physical mold, and the DOP "date of production" stamp, printed onto the foot or underside with ink in some later releases.

Embossed Info, Copyright, and Manufacturing Text

Like all toys, Safari's models come embossed with some basic information on the bottom, namely country of manufacture, company, and year of manufacture. Note that this is information about the *mold*, not the model itself - the info text is part of a very expensive metal injection mold and therefore it is impractical to update it every subsequent year the model is produced. Most of the Carnegie models also include some additional information about each model, like its species, size, or scale.

Trying to keep track of all the different versions of each Carnegie model can be a complicated task, especially for the 1980s/early 1990s models which were issued in several variants within a short period of time. Compounding the issue is the fact that all of Safari's models were hand-painted, meaning no two models are exactly alike. What counts as individual variation, and what is an actual running change in production? Knowing a little bit about the different embossed texts styles can help sort these questions out.

Info text is the embossed text on the bottom of a model, usually on the belly or base of the tail. The text is raised - this effect is created by etching the text physically into the finished metal injection mold using a CNC mill (details here). As a mold is tooled (that is, the details from the prototype transferred into a concave mold), the stamp text is engraved into it, creating an embossed copyright text blurb when a positive model is cast from the negative mold. When the mold is injected with melted plastic and the model is cast, the engraved text is likewise filled with liquid plastic, and, when cooled, results in raised text. The standard procedure for engraving text using precision CNC machining results in text raised about 0.2 mm above the surface of the finished model.

The original 10 Carnegie Collection molds all had center-aligned info text. The text always included the species name in larger letters, the size in meters, the year, the brand label "The Carnegie", company name and location "Safari Ltd. Miami, FL", and the location of manufacture "Made in China". For various reasons, much of this would be tweaked through the years. Below is a picture of the original belly stamp of the Carnegie Tyrannosaurus rex. This is from a c. 1990 repaint, not the original color variant; however, you can tell it is still using the original mold, with the first stamp, because there are no smooth areas where old stamp text has been erased - the sculpted scale details go right under and between the letters, which were stamped onto an already detailed part of the mold.

The second wave of Carnegie figures probably did not go into production until 1989, despite the fact that their info text and the Carnegie Collector's guides list them as 1988 releases. Models 411 through 416 never have centered info text, it is always left aligned, even on the oldest known variants.

The info text of the original ten models was later updated (i.e. retooled), making them left-aligned like the second wave. This was probably due mainly to mold fatigue. The more a mold is used to create plastic models (especially if these early molds were made using plaster or other softer materials rather than much more expensive metal molds), the more it wears out from constant heating and injection of plastic. The details become warped or softened, and soon the text becomes unreadable. The solution is to erase the old text by etching deeper into the mold to erase it. This creates a smooth dent, which translated to a smooth raised area in the final product. Into this "erased" area, the new text is etched. In the photo below, you can see a new, convex smooth area around the info text. This has obliterated the original scale details on this part of the tail in order to erase the old, centered text. It has been replaced with freshly embossed text, though note the arrangement is slightly different - the text is now left-aligned, and the species name is a smaller font.

At some point, inferior copies of some of the first 10 molds were made. These molds had additional sections and generally included new info text on the newly created third belly section, using left-aligned text. I'm not sure when this second mold group was created, or even if it was done all at once. However, most of these left-aligned second molds also have added a small CE mark. This mark is requirement for toys sold in Europe, and only appeared on first-run Carnegie models starting in 1991 with the first production run of Elasmosaurus and Mosasaurus. The presence or absence of the CE mark can therefore help date a model (though for some reason, the first issue Iguanodon and Spinosaurus, released in 1992, do not have CE marks).

The sample below is an updated, left-aligned mold of Tyrannosaurus. Notice that the info text has been moved from the tail to the belly, because the whole mold has been re-created - originally a 2-piece mold, it is now a 3-piece mold. Because it has a small CE mark, but also still says "Miami, FL" (missing from first-run 1991 models but present in first-run 1990 models), this version can be dated to late 1990 or early 1991.

In the next photo, you can see something that's still a little bit of a mystery to me. The text remains basically the same, though you can see the new text is beginning to show definitely signs of fatigue by the time this sample was produced - the text is noticeably "blurry" compared to the last version. But the weird thing is the lack of the words "Miami, FL"  and "Made in China" after the company name "Safari Ltd.". This is a pattern seen in all the second mold group of Carnegie models. Note how the words have been physically and noticeably erased from existing Tyrannosaurus mold. You can see a raised blank area after "SAFARI LTD" in the sample below. This raised, smooth area is the result of someone going into the metal mold and etching out the words "Miami, FL" and “Made in China”. Weird. For some reason, Safari decided it would not or could not include the location of its headquarters on these models, nor the country of origin. Or were some of these models being produced under license by a different company, like Schleich (which manufactured their models in both Germany and China), to help Safari meet dramatically increased demand? But if the second mold group was created for production outside China, why did they originally include it and have to have it erased? Were these duplicate molds originally made for use in the Chinese factory then shipped overseas? (If that is the case, it's possible that the missing Miami and China might not be chronologically significant at all; they may have been produced concurrently with the full-stamp models from Safari's Chinese factory. Still, I'm tentatively listing all model versions with the Miami and China erased as c. 1992 on this site).

One clue may be that there are actually two versions of the CE mark. The smaller, closely-spaced CE mark on most of the early 1990s Carnegie models apparently does NOT certify sale in Europe, but rather stands for "Chinese Export". Therefore, this mark could have replaced the phrase "Made in China", and indeed, it is usually stamped over the spot where that phrase was etched out. The removal of Miami, FL, then, could be Safari's attempt to ensure there was not confusion over the manufacturing location. With "China" now abbreviated, the presence of "Miami" on the models could have created the impression that they were made in the United States. However, confusing matters further, many models have both a small, closely-spaced CE mark as well as the phrase "Made in China". The mystery persists.

If anybody has any clues that can help solve the Miami mystery, please let me know in the comments!

Between 1996 and 1997, most of the older models were remade with colored vinyl and fresh tooling, including new info text. You can see a difference in sharpness, due not only to new tooling, but now also not being covered in any paint.

Big changes to the info text were made again after the 2007 line refresh. While these models initially used the same, unmodified molds as their predecessors, many models both old and new were eventually retooled to include a longer, 3-line info text following the format "Carnegie [name of dinosaurs] [scale of model]", making "Carnegie" part of the de facto name of each model, presumably to help further differentiate this series from the Wild Safari line. At some point very close to the end of the series' production, this was modified further to specify "Carnegie INST.". This format is hard to find and I have not encountered any from before 2015 or 2014; interestingly, even first-release models from this time did not carry this format, so it may have been the start of a line-wide change that was never completed.

General facts to know about belly stamp variants:
  • Only the first ten Carnegie molds have been found with centered info text. When new molds were created for these figures, the text was always left-aligned, though sometimes on multiple lines rather than a single block of text.
  • Though their info text says "1988", the last 6 of the first 16 Carnegie models never have centered text or extra-large species names. This may support my hunch that they were actually produced later, towards the end of 1988, and not actually released for sale until 1989. This also explains their lack of early color variants.
  • All pre-1991 models have "Miami, FL" embossed after "Safari LTD".
  • All post-1990 models have CE marks. 
  • CE marked models often also include a mold number, 1 or 2, adjacent to the belly text, which indicates multiple molds were in concurrent use.
  • Beginning in 1998, a large CE mark was used in place of the small one, probably to avoid the smaller mark getting lost to mold fatigue. In some of my samples, the small CE mark is barely visible, and this could cause legal issues for Safari's business in Europe.
A brief chronology of belly stamp features:
  • 1988: All belly texts begin as complete and center-aligned on the first 10 Carnegie models.
  • 1989: Any new, first-run models now have only left-aligned text. All 1988 models retain centered text.
  • 1991: Small CE marks are included on all first run models. 
  • 1991: Inferior copies of some of the original molds are made and all have left-aligned text.
  • 1991: First run models lack "Miami FL" and "Made in China" marks.
  • 1991: Small CE marks are added to the info text of some older molds. 
  • 1992: "Made in China" is removed from all older models. 
  • 1992: "Miami FL" is removed from all older molds. 
  • 1992: Small CE marks are added to the info text of the remaining older molds. 
  • 1992: "China" replaces the small CE mark on first-run models. The back and forth between "China", small CE mark, and inclusion of both might indicate that the small CE mark stood for "Chinese Export" rather than "European Certification" during this time. (1992)
  • 1994: "Made in China" returns on all first-run models. 
  • 1994: "Miami, FL" returns to some first-run models, but not all.
  • 1997: "Miami, FL" and "Made in China" return to all models in production, due to the fact that all of the 1980s era molds have been replaced.
  • 1998: All models are retooled to include a large, widely spaced CE mark that finally looks like the "real" European Certification symbol.
  • 2012: Most figures are updates to a 3-line info text which included the scale of the model after the name.
  • 2014: Many models, especially later ones, are updated to read "Carnegie INST." before the name of the animal.

DOP Stamps

Beginning in the 2010s, an additional kind of stamp began appearing on all Safari animal replicas, including the Carnegie Collection dinosaurs. This is the "Date Of Production" or DOP stamp. Basically, it is a 4-number tampo (a stamp printed with ink via the tampograph process) stamped onto a finished model and indicating the month and year that individual model was produced.

In the example below, you can see a still-bagged Carnegie Amargasaurus that I purchased. These bags were usually discarded by stores, which usually kept their stock opened and tagged on display, but you could commonly get bagged samples buying online. The bagged replicas were shipped in boxes, often with additional packing material inside to prevent bending, to retailers.

You can see the Amargasaurus bag lists the item number, "Inner Quantity" (number shipped per case?), P.O. Number, and DOP - Date of Production. In this case, the specific sample was produced in April of 2014. The corresponding production date stamp on this model's foot is "0414", or April 2014.

Using this information, even if you don't have the baggie your Carnegie model shipped from the factory in, you can know down to the month when the model was produced. Very handy! Unfortunately, it seems that the practice of adding DOP stamps to models only began in about 2010. But it can help identify late production runs of older models. For example, I have an Ankylosaurus with an Imprint Stamp that reads 2004 (the date the mold was produced), but the DOP stamp indicates my sample was manufactured in 2013, so it is far removed from the original production run. Because the DOP tampo is applied in ink, it could be updated monthly, unlike the physical imprint stamp which was part of the mold and updated relatively infrequently because doing so required highly skilled retooling.

In general, models made closer to the first production run are higher quality both in terms of paint application, mold quality, and general attention to detail. All of these suffer as molds age and resources/focus gets placed on new models that the company wants to highlight. There are some truly egregious examples of late-production models that look absolutely terrible compared to the original production run. The best examples of this are the Carnegie Collection Pteranodon, which suffers from having a replacement mold so bad it may as well be a bootleg, and more recently, the Safari Ltd. AMNH Feathered Dinosaurs Toob, a set of minis that were originally painted in vibrant colors and which can now be only found in totally unpainted beige.