DRIVERS on Dewsbury’s ring road couldn’t believe their eyes.
Had the town turned into Jurassic Park?
No, it was schoolchildren getting a first glimpse of a model dinosaur. A triceratops to be precise - just one of a range of prehistoric creatures being loaned out to schools in a unique educational scheme.
And it’s an idea which is proving a commercial hit for local business, The Toy Soldier. Run by the Tierney family, the well-established shop has started making dinosaurs from white plastic. Large-scale versions are for hire to local schools and pupils get bags of materials to build small models for themselves. However, no instructions are provided meaning the children have to work it all out from looking at the original.
Paul Tierney said the idea came from his 23-year-old son, also called Paul.
First came three-foot models, then a full-scale velociraptor and the one-third scale triceratops.
“After Paul came up with the idea, we thought: why not make them a bit bigger? And that worked well,” said Mr Tierney. “People liked them.”
A life-size velociraptor, 12ft long and 6ft tall, now stands in the shop. But because it balances on two feet, a more stable four-legged triceratops model was created for schools.
Eastborough Junior, Infant and Nursery was the first Dewsbury school to be taken back in time. A party of pupils went to the shop to see the creatures ahead of a dinosaur-themed session after Easter.
“It’s a really good project for the kids,” said Mr Tierney.
Teacher Amy Bunce said: “We heard about this and wanted to take a closer look as we will be doing a lot of work about dinosaurs.
“The children are so excited about it. It will engage them in problem solving, teamwork and awareness of space and shape.”
The Tierneys, who worked on information from books and the internet to create the models, are now trying to recreate tyrannosaurus rex – one of the most famous dinosaurs of all. But there are design problems as the creature had a very large head on a small neck, so stability and balance is once again an issue.
The shop sells the models for around £24.99 but anyone wanting one of the bigger versions would have to fork out between £1,000 and £1,500.