The crowd shrieked as an 8-meter-long Tyrannosaurus rex, walking with a heavy stomp, swung its long tail and bit a spectator with a growl.
That was during a media event in Tokyo in November to show off a full-scale bipedal dinosaur figure — the first of its kind worldwide — that looks as if it came back from the Mesozoic Era.
It’s the work of On-Art, a six-member company in Tokyo.
“I wanted to see dinosaurs that move freely like in the world of the movie ‘Jurassic Park,’ ” said On-Art President Kazuya Kanemaru, 57.
“It’s because we are a small company that doesn’t have the problem of sectionalism that we can put out ideas and create things,” Kanemaru said.
The company was adamant on making the dinosaur look real. It used soft resin and carbon fiber to form the huge body so that it moves like a real dinosaur would have.
On-Art also received advice from experts, conducting research on how the skeleton and joints of a dinosaur move, Kanemaru said.
The dinosaurs are manipulated by staff inside them using controls, he said, noting robots would not be agile enough to make such movements.
After graduating from Tokyo University of the Arts, Kanemaru worked at NHK and produced sets for dramas, but left the broadcaster after three years to play in a rock band.
Art modeling work, which he did on the side, eventually became his main occupation, prompting him to establish On-Art in 2005.
After years of self-teaching, the company spent three years completing its first life-size dinosaur. There are currently 13 dinosaurs that can be used at events held at museums and elsewhere in Japan.
On-Art is considering performing a show overseas in the near future, Kanemaru said. His dream is to open a permanent theater or a theme park where visitors can enjoy dinosaur shows.