Friday, September 21, 2018

My 25th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Helpful" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-My 11th-20th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 21st Pair of Reviews":
-"My 22nd Pair of Reviews":
-"My 23rd Pair of Reviews":

If there's 1 thing I'm nostalgic for, it's Rey's traditional paleoart (which is overall better than his digital paleoart). If there's 1 thing I'm definitely NOT nostalgic for, it's the extreme dino genre (which is usually at best just a buzzword & at worst an excuse to make dinos as monstrous as possible). Not only is Rey's "Extreme Dinosaurs" (henceforth ED) the best extreme dino book, but also the best traditional Rey book.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Unlike other extreme dino books, "extreme" actually means something in ED. This is especially apparent in the 1st 2 chapters. Not only do said chapters define "extreme" (See the 1st Rey quote), but also use "the dinosaur-bird link" to reinforce that definition (See the 2nd Rey quote).

2) Unlike other extreme dino books, ED is very well-organized. More specifically, the middle chapters are arranged in both geographical & chronological order: In reference to "geographical", each chapter focuses on a different continent; In reference to "chronological", the chapters are arranged in order of their continent's 1st dino discovery, beginning with Europe & ending with Asia; Furthermore, the dinos in each chapter are described in order of their discovery (E.g. The Europe chapter begins with Iguanodon & ends with Scipionyx).

3) Unlike other extreme dino books, ED is very well-illustrated. The last chapter in particular features Rey's then-best/most bird-like dinos in terms of appearance & behavior. "Customising a life-size Velociraptor" (which, as far as I know, is the best Velociraptor model next to Kokoro's: ) & "RAPTOR RED:Snow games" (which, as far as I know, is the best dino play behavior art, period: ) are especially good examples of the former & latter, respectively.

If I could, I'd give ED a 4.5/5. My only gripes are a few weird bits in the text (E.g. The Berlin Archaeopteryx is referred to as "the first Archaeopteryx fossil that was found") & writing (E.g. Some hadrosaurs are referred to as 4-legged, while others are referred to as 2-legged). However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5. I recommend reading ED in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs") as well as "Luis V. Rey's Dinosaurs and Paleontology Art Gallery" (which provides more info about most of Rey's ED work).

*Gee/Rey's "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic" may be better in terms of paleoart (I.e. There's MUCH more of it), but definitely NOT in terms of text & writing.
Quoting Rey: "There has never been a more exciting time to study dinosaurs. The better we get to know them, the more weird and wonderful and extreme they seem. We know a lot more about dinosaurs than we did when I was a kid. We used to think that dinosaurs were sluggish, cold blooded and not very bright. Then in 1964, Yale paleontologist John Ostrom found the arms and claws of a two-legged meat-eater he named Deinonychus...Deinonychus had enormous sickle-shaped claws on its feet. This meant that in order to kill its prey, it had to be able to leap into the air, cling to the victim with its hand claws, and slash with its feet. Deinonychus must have been a real acrobat. Could it be that dinosaurs were much more active than we had thought? Other extraordinary discoveries followed." 
Quoting Rey: "In 1988, my Deinonychus Pack was a controversial painting. Paleontologists who favored the idea of the dinosaur-bird link loved it. Others didn't. They thought dinosaur feathers were science fiction...they wanted to see scaly skin! Lots of evidence has piled up in favor of feathers since those days."

In my previous review, I referred to Rey's "Extreme Dinosaurs" as the best extreme dino book. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why Mash's "Extreme Dinosaurs" (henceforth ED) may be the worst extreme dino book.

1) Trish's ED review ( ) sums up most everything you need to know about Martin's paleoart in ED. However, I'll add my own thoughts as well:
-Martin's Brachiosaurus & Edmontosaurus are shameless rip-offs of Graham High's Brachiosaurus model & the NHM's Baryonyx model, respectively.
-Remember when "Nigel-the-Pelican-flies-into-a-window" in "Finding Nemo" ( )? Martin's Microraptor is basically a Mockbuster version of that.
-Remember the "All Yesterdays Cat" ( )? Martin's T.rex is basically a Shar-Pei version of that.

2) Martin's paleoart isn't the only "Eye-Searingly Bad" part of ED. There's also Mash's writing: For 1, it goes back & forth between uncomfortably large & uncomfortably small; For another, it goes back & forth between several different fonts; Taken together, it's extremely difficult just to look at it, let alone read the words. & if that's not bad enough, Mash's writing is also annoyingly repetitive (E.g. "First, they were used first to kill the prey, and then to slice the meat")/inconsistent (E.g. Some of the info boxes list length; Others list length & weight; Still others list length, weight, & height)/derivative (E.g. See the Mash quote, which shamelessly rips off Chapter 4 of Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs").

3) Mash's text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in the info boxes because the misses stick out more with less text.* However, the other sidebar misses may be worse in degree: Some of them are due to being extremely outdated (E.g. Not only are pachycephalosaurs & heterodontosaurs claimed to be ornithopods, but ornithischians & saurischians are claimed to be no more closely related to each other than they are to crocs & pterosaurs); Others are due to being extremely nonsensical (E.g. The skeleton on pages 10-11 is "[seemingly] based on Marsh's 1880s "Brontosaurus" skeletal, complete with mismatched macronarian head", yet is referred to as that of Diplodocus).**

*Even if you only read the info boxes, you'll see that there's an average of at least 1 or 2 factual errors per page in ED, a 32 page book (E.g. Brachiosaurus =/= 150-140 MYA & "up to 90 tons").

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: The evolution and ecology of the Dinosaurs: Part 2".
Quoting Mash: "It is estimated a human being could have been torn apart in less than thirty seconds by a pack of Velociraptors!"