Mold Groups

Apatosaurus Baby, three different molds. From left to right: original, second mold, 1996 remold.

Like any long-running line of plastic figurines, the Carnegie Collection produced several groups of molds. You can read more about how molds are produced in the Production section. This page will focus on breaking down the differences and history of the different mold groups.*

* The term "mold group" here refers to the different sets of molds, sharing similar features, that have been used over the years to produce what are, technically, the same models. This is not to be confused with groups of small models made from the same physical mold, as in Marx dinosaurs.

In short, a "mold" is the concave or negative impression into which liquid plastic is poured to create a convex or positive "cast" - in regular production, the cast is the final model that is then painted and sold to retailers. During the production run of a given model, the mold will be used over and over again to produce dozens or hundreds of models. However, the number of molds limits the quantity that can be produced during one run. Molds are also the number one most expensive part of production. The process of creating a mold from a prototype figure (a process known as "tooling") is a highly skilled job that requires a huge investment in time and money. A company, like Safari, must sell a large number of models made from each mold just to break even for the cost of the mold's creation, let alone make a profit from it. Therefore, it is rare that multiple molds are made for a specific figure. The well-known German toy brand Playmobil has spoken candidly about the fact that it uses as few molds as possible to create its products, which inevitably leads to a delay in distribution to other markets outside of Europe. According to Playmobil, the reason new models appear in Germany up to a year before their availability in the US is down to the fact that they first need to meet retail demand in their primary European markets. Once that demand has been met, the molds can be used to manufacture another production run for distribution overseas. Completing both domestic and foreign production runs at the same time would require two sets of molds, which would double the cost of each product.

Given these economic factors, it must be concluded that the Carnegie Collection line must have been very lucrative, or at least in very high demand, early in its existence. Between 1988 and 1998, no fewer than four different molds were created for its most popular models, and these seem to have been used for simultaneous production runs. Below, I will take a look at each mold group in approximately chronological order of their creation. Note that these groups really only apply to the original 17 Carnegie models, numbers 400-416. While later releases were updated periodically with new molds, this tended not to be as part of a "group".

1st Mold Group

Included models: 400 Stegosaurus, 401 Tyrannosaurus rex, 402 Brachiosaurus, 403 Apatosaurus, 404 Apatosaurus Baby, 405 Parasaurolophus, 406 Triceratops, 407 Allosaurus, 408 Australopithecus Male, 409 Australopithecus Female, 410 Diplodocus, 411 Maiasaura, 412 Euoplocephalus, 413 Dimetrodon, 414 Pteranodon, 415 Protoceratops, 415 Smilodon

The original Carnegie Collection mold group seems to be the closest to the original prototype sculpts created by artist Forest Rogers, and includes models 400-416. Rogers spoke in an interview with Prehistoric Times about the fact that her original sculpts had been "refreshed" several times and slowly drifted away from her creations. To get as close as possible to Rogers' originals, a collector needs to seek out the first mold group, which are also the rarest Carnegies on the second hand market today.

The first mold group can be characterized by a few key features. First, being closest to the original sculpts, they tend to have much subtler texture detailing than later versions of these models. Textures and wrinkles in the skin are sharp but shallow, highlighting Rogers' somewhat minimalist classical style of sculpting, heavily influenced by her training in sculpting religious iconography. Secondly, the imprint stamps in Mold Group 1 are usually centered, with larger text used for the model name (this is true only of models numbered 400-409; models 410-416 always had left-aligned text with a more uniform font size). Lastly, all models in the first mold group are 2-piece molds with a single seam that usually runs off-center or diagonally across the entire model.

2nd Mold Group

Included models: 400 Stegosaurus, 401 Tyrannosaurus rex, 402 Brachiosaurus, 403 Apatosaurus, 404 Apatosaurus Baby, 406 Triceratops, 407 Allosaurus, 414 Pteranodon

At some point between 1989 and 1993, several molds in the first group were copied to make a new set of molds. These molds are very noticeably different and quite inferior to the originals. The subtle texture detailing of the first molds is much blockier here, with deeper crevices between skin folds and wrinkles, and cruder overall texture such as ribbed, convex wrinkles on necks and legs of the sauropods in place of smooth texturing. It may be that these copies were made by "tracing" an existing production model using a pantograph machine. Since the production models were themselves copies of the original sculpts with their own resulting loss of detail, these secondary molds would have been copies of copies - comparing them directly to the originals makes them seem like bootlegs in comparison. This isn't a coincidence, as the method of copying the original molds is likely the exact same method used by the makers of unlicensed knockoffs. I am not sure why the second mold group wound up so crude looking - it may be the method or quality of early pantograph machines were not yet refined, or simply the unfortunate lack of artistic skill and/or rushing on the part of the "sculptor".

Other than the crude texturing, the second mold group is characterized by left-aligned imprint text in models that originally had it centered. The imprint text is usually also in a new location - on the underside or belly, as opposed to side or tail as in most models of the first mold group. The second mold group is also the largest - though about the same in absolute dimensions, the added, blockier texturing seems to have made these models noticeably heavier than their 1st mold group counterparts.

The second mold group is also at the center of one of the great Carnegie Collection mysteries yet to be solved - the vanishing "Miami" and "China". All first mold group models had imprint stamps that included the location of Safari's headquarters, Miami FL. They also contained the phrase "Made in China". The earliest samples of models cast from the second mold group also contain these parts of the imprint stamp. However, Mold Group 2 models that say "Miami" and "China" are very rare. The vast majority have these phrases visibly scraped out of the metal mold, leaving behind raised "welts" in the finished model. 

There is no consensus among collectors why this would have been done, but a theory can be put forward. First, it is possible the second mold group was created to be manufactured concurrently with the first mold group, allowing production runs to double their output (see the Playmobil example above). While this would have drastically increased cost, it may have been worth it to meet demand for certain popular models (and, in fact, the models that were not included in the second mold group seem, anecdotally, to have indeed been less popular). Schleich was an early partner of Safari - Safari distributed Schleich models in the US, and Schleich distributed the Carnegie Collection in Europe. Based on the Playmobil example, it is possible that Schleich commissioned a second set of molds to meet distribution demands in Europe while Safari primarily distributed to the US market. While Schleich and Safari are known to have shared the same factory in China, it is possible that it soon became apparent that producing two production runs of the same figures in the same factory on alternate days (thus hogging Schleich's "turn" at producing its own figures) would not work out logistically. Either Safari or Schleich may therefore have sent the second molds to a different factory, in Germany, Tunisia, or elsewhere. Since the production of models made from these molds was no longer happening in China, removing "Made in China" from the molds would have been necessary. What is less clear, and can't be easily explained by this theory, is why Miami, FL was also removed, and why the actual country of production was not added. It is also a fact that at least some of the Group 1 molds, such as Allosaurus, also had "Miami" and "China" removed at some point late in their production. Could these molds have been sent off to other countries for continued production after they were replaced with new sculpts at the primary Asian factory? Or did the removal of "China" have nothing to do with country of origin?


3rd Mold Group

Included models: 4000 Stegosaurus, 4001 Tyrannosaurus rex, 4002 Brachiosaurus, 4003 Apatosaurus, 4004 Apatosaurus Baby, 4005 Parasaurolophus, 4006 Triceratops, 4007 Allosaurus, 4010 Diplodocus, 4014 Pteranodon, 4018 Pachycephalosaurus, 4019 Elasmosaurus, 4020 Mosasaurus, 4021 Iguanodon, 4022 Spinosaurus, 4023 Corythosaurus

The third set of Carnegie molds were created to replace the older versions completely, and were done concurrently with their own set of slightly lower-quality duplicates in the 4th mold group (see below). Like the 2nd Mold Group, these seem to have been made by copying the previous sculpts, but they are much higher quality and most have at least some features, especially heads, that have been completely re-done and may have been re-sculpted by hand. This is most obvious in the 3rd Tyrannosaurus mold, which has a much better and more accurate head sculpt on essentially the same body, but all the the 3rd molds have noticeably if subtly different sculpts to the point that it is hard to tell which are retools and which are based on brand new sculpts merely inspired by the old models. The third Allosaurus, for example, is an entirely new sculpt in a new pose that is so in line with Forest Roger's later work it must have been fully remade based on a newly commissioned sculpture. Others, like the Parasaurolophus, Apatosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus, are so close to their originals poses that they must simply have been pantograph-produced copies with new detail added by artists at the factory where the molds were tooled. The sharp increase in quality over the 2nd mold group shows that a lot more care and attention went into the retooling process this time, and in fact this mold group roughly coincides with a complete line refresh that included a new look for the packaging and info tags, as well as a changeover to color vinyl in place of fully painted models.

The Group 3 molds all have left-aligned imprint stamps and, wouldn't you know it, Miami FL and "Made in China" are back. Other than the obvious sculpt differences noted above, the 3rd molds are also much smaller and lighter than the 1st and 2nd molds, another indication that they were created by pantograph (the same process used to create mini and enlarged versions of sculpts for e.g. Safari's Authentics / Toobs line and their Great Dinos line).

Not all dinosaur models from the 3rd mold group had duplicates in the 4th group. Like the 2nd, the 4th seems to have been there to double production on the most popular figures. Nevertheless, most in this group have a large number 1 imprinted next to their main text stamps, while 4th mold group models have a number 2.


4th Mold Group

Included models: 4000 Stegosaurus, 4001 Tyrannosaurus rex, 4006 Triceratops

The fourth mold group seems to have been a limited number of molds made for the most popular Carnegie dinosaurs in order to allow extra production runs to meet retailer demand. These seem to be copies of the 3rd mold group molds, and are slightly lower in quality and detail, but this dip in quality is nowhere near as noticeable or egregious as the difference between the first two mold groups. It's mostly down to things like slightly blurrier texturing in some areas, blunted or clipped looking claw tips, etc. In some cases these imperfections seem to have even been addressed before production. As you can see, the teeth of the 4th mold T. rex actually look better defined and sharper than the 3rd mold. Close inspection shows they were lengthened "artificially" after the mold was created. Probably, the teeth did not transfer well when the mold was copied, so the artist/technician had to go in and individually re-sculpt each tooth, resulting in a better result than the original had.

All 4th mold group models are marked with the number 2 on their imprint stamps, which is usually the only way to tell them apart from Mold Group 3. The 1 and 2 indicate that both molds were in production at the same time - it would have been important to quickly and easily distinguish which model came from which mold in the event problems started showing up in one of them.

5th Mold Group

More info coming soon, but the upshot is that some of the 1990s-era molds were retooled a 5th time around 2010-2012.