Display Stands

Carnegie Collection Point of Purchase Display (1988-1990)

The first Carnegie Collection dinosaur display was a simple tri-fold cardboard version of the original Invicta-inspired poster illustration with a sand-like plastic base. This "point of purchase" or POP display was intended for retailers to show off the models on a countertop or shelf, against a backdrop with an info blurb about each one. This display was almost as large as the later Dinosaur Mountain, but without tiers or steps, it was only really capable of displaying the first 10 models as shown in the photo above, from a 1988 catalog.

Carnegie Collection Dinosaur Terrain (1991-1993)

1991 gray version, by Joe DeMarco in his book "Dinosauriana: The Essential Guide to Collecting Figural Toy and Model Dinosaurs"

The next Carnegie Collection stand was less of a display and more of a playset. Debuting in 1991, this "Dinosaur Terrain" set was a product that is sort of a little sand box / play environment with various rocky terrain molded into it, including a volcano, and the Carnegie Collection name molded in large print on the side. The product number for the original gray plastic version is 453-CAR, while a later one, 455-CAR, was painted in a beige color.

1992 tan version, by Joe DeMarco in his book "Dinosauriana: The Essential Guide to Collecting Figural Toy and Model Dinosaurs". Note that the $110 price is with models included.

Note the beige painted top and unpainted underside. The base plastic color is the same as the initial unpainted gray version.

Carnegie Dinosaur Terrain Play Set in the 1993 Carnegie Collector's Guide. 

Carnegie Collection Acrylic Step Display (1993-1994)

Replacing the original POP display was a second version made of clear acrylic and arranged in a tiered series of steps, about 3 tiers high, that could accommodate the first 17 dinosaur models. I believe some kind of backdrop, similar to or identical with the first POP display, was also included, as was a holder for informational brochures. This appears in 1993 dealer catalogs with the product number 4530-23 (or 4531-23 for a version with models included). The photo above is from the 1994 Safari Ltd. dealers' catalog.

The Carnegie / Safari Dinosaur Mountain Display (1992-2015)

Dinosaur Mountain as advertised in a 1992 catalog.

The most famous Carnegie Collection display is "Dinosaur Mountain", which debuted around 1991 as a way for retailers to show off available models and distribute information about the Carnegie line. The mountain is made of very hard, thin styrene plastic that seems to be blow molded rather than injection molded like the models themselves. The Carnegie specific mountain stands were usually molded in beige or sandstone colored plastic. The earliest photos of Dinosaur Mountain (see above) appear to have been given a paint wash, but I am not sure if these were ever distributed or if the one in the catalog was just a prototype.

The earliest Dinosaur Mountains were cast in light orange, sandstone-color plastic.

Dinosaur Mountain consists of a sculpted rock-like texture full of terraces and platforms on which to stand models of various sizes. The mountain seems to have been designed with the original 1988-1992 models in mind. The three large platforms on the bottom perfectly accommodate the three large sauropods in positions that allow all three to be seen, with only the neck of the Brachiosaurus blocking the Diplodocus behind and above it. The central balcony-like terrace has a tall rectangular alcove behind it, which is an odd fit for the mostly long, narrow dinosaur models. This central spot seems custom made for the Australopithecus pair, with a slightly elevated terrace to the left of it as a perfect fit for the Smilodon. This rectangular alcove proves to be an awkward fit for other models and looks "off" even in official photos from after the retirement of the original mammals. Several small terraces exist that can hold the tiny Protoceratops, Dimetrodon, Pteranodon, and Deinonychus (I usually see photos of the display with the Pteranodon perched up top). Of course, there are more terraces than there were dinosaurs in the early 1990s, so the mountain was designed with line expansions in mind, though some of the subsequent releases are an awkward fit. I challenge you to find a good spot for the Kronosaurus on this display without relying on some part of a sauropod to hold it in place on the edge of a lower platform.

This shiny label is likely one of the oldest. The print and font matches those of the earliest promotional photos.

The Dinosaur Mountain mold also has a small, recessed area on the lower left with a hole in it. This is there to accommodate a little acrylic card holder, which could be twist-tied on to the main stand. The card holder could hold collectors guides and other small informational brochures on the Carnegie line or other Safari offerings. The front center at the bottom of the mountain held a logo sticker. There were many variants of this sticker, a few of which are pictured here. The first stickers from 1993 read "The Carnegie Collection" in a dark font on a cream or white background. This was followed by the same logo but with a brown background and white font color in 1994. Some variants of this logo even had a shiny background. In the late 1990s, a brand new logo reading "The Carnegie Institute" in a maroon font on a pink background or red font on a yellow background debuted. The glue that held this sticker on degraded over time, and you'd be hard pressed to find many good examples today that still have it. My Dinosaur Mountain, featured on the Models page, originally had the late 1990s era sticker, which peeled off over time, so I eventually created a custom replacement with a laminated logo attached with plastic fasteners to allow the option of making it interchangeable. My mountain was purchased for a very low price from a Noodle Kidoodle store that was going out of business around 1999. Luckily, it did not have glued-on models.

Brown label variants. Note that some stands came with larger informational cards in a separate stand-up Lucite display. The variant with a white line under the name is from 1994, and lacks a sticker for Australopithecus. The top rectangular alcove is designated for Corythosaurus instead.

Retailers had two ways to order the stand - individually without any models, or, if they placed a bulk order for models with Safari, they'd receive a display stand free, with a number of models pre-glued to the mountain. In the early 1990s, the fully-painted models had small areas of paint on the underside removed and were glued directly to the display (I personally witnessed the removal of my Elasmosaurus model, which has paint-free areas on the bottom of the flippers). By the early 2000s, Safari was using strong adhesive pads to glue models to the stand. Since these would cause instability to the standing models, it seems that Safari began shaving the plastic away to create flat areas and depressions on feet, bellies, and in some cases tails, wherever the model was to be anchored. Clearly, these were never intended to come off.

Paint-free areas on the bottom of this Elasmosaurus' flippers show where it had been glued directly to a mid-1990s Dinosaur Mountain store display.
Plastic on the belly and feet of this Tanystropheus was scraped or ground off so it would sit flat on a 2005 Dinosaur Mountain store display. Note the adhesive pad still attached to the right front foot.

Safari provided clear label stickers with model silhouettes and names. Pre-glued mountains came with these stickers attached near their respective models. Presumably, model-free stands came with a loose set of stickers the retailers could place where they liked. Pre-glued mountains are the bane of many a collector's existence, because removing the models usually means damaging the models. I learned this first hand when I bought my personal sample of Elasmosaurus. The store was out, but they offered me the one on the stand, which had to be pried off, leaving circular marks where the paint came off to reveal the gray vinyl underneath.

Above: Monterey Bay and Vanishing Wild Mountains

Above: Smurf Mountain display from the 1992 Schleich dealer catalog.

Safari got a lot of use out of their display mountain. Initially, there were two different designs. The Carnegie Collection mountain was initially cast in textured sandstone-orange styrene, later in hard beige plastic, and in the 2000s in black plastic painted various colors on the front face. There was also a completely different, more iceberg-shaped mountain made for Safari's Monterey Bay Aquarium collection of sea-life models. This was of course an icy blue color, and had a much more vertical, jagged look to it. However, the Monterey Bay version was short lived, and for whatever reason, in the early 2000s Safari decided it was better or more economical to replace it with the Carnegie display, just colored blue. Safari also created a green painted version of the Carnegie mountain for its Vanishing Wild collection. Schleich, who presumably handled manufacturing of these through the early 90s, created a mossy green version for their popular Smurfs line in. Around the mid-2000s, Safari switched to a plain white generic version that could be used for any line. These, of course, all had their own sets of logo and label stickers. The all versions of the Carnegie / Safari mountain was reportedly discontinued a few years before the end of the Carnegie line in 2015, and are highly sought after collectibles today.

Painted Safari mountains on display in 2021.

Invicta also produced a very similar looking display for the British Museum (Natural History) as part of their earlier dinosaur model line. Invicta only started painting their models following the success of the Carnegie Collection, and it could be that their mountain display was also created in response to Safari's. However, Joe DeMarco reports that both stands debuted in 1993, which could either be an amazing coincidence or an instance of one company finding out the production of the other and quickly producing their own version. I still lean towards the Invicta one being the "copy", especially as it seems to be made of much cheaper material, possibly indicative of faster production. It appears to be made of glossier and possibly thinner plastic, the kind you'd normally find as packaging material. This could explain the scarcity of Invicta mountains today - if Invicta, whose primary business was the production of plastic packaging material, used that kind of material to make the mountain display, it's unlikely many would have survived until today.
Photo by Darren  Naish, Tetrapod Zoology

Dinosaur Mountain display stand through the years:

Above: 1992

Above: 1993

Above: 1994

Above: 1997

Above: 1998

Above: 2005

Above: 2007

Above: 2008