The abelisaurid Carnotaurus was a peculiar theropod from Late Cretaceous Patagonia which survived up until the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. At 30 feet long, Carnotaurus was likely a top predator in its ecosystem. The name means “flesh bull” and refers to the two wing-like brow horns protruding above the eyes and the animal’s characteristically short, deep skull. The holotype specimen was formally described by its discoverer, the famous South American paleontologist José Bonaparte, in 1985. The 2000 Disney movie “Dinosaur” helped moved the formerly obscure Carnotaurus into the public spotlight, albeit with a fancifully beefed up reproduction of the animal that approached T. rex in size, but also with the added bonus of more toy lines introducing their own version of Carnotaurus.
The incredibly awesome Battat Carnotaurus, however, was not a product of movie hype. This figure was released in 1998 as part of the last wave of the Boston Museum of Science Collection, which was probably one of the best and most short-lived lines of dinosaur figures ever produced. It’s about 6.5 inches long, about 3.25 inches tall, and scaled at 1:40 (always a plus!). The color of this figure is just fantastic. Its back and stripes are jet black, while the underside and legs are blood red. In my opinion, this is one of the best theropod paint schemes ever produced, and it doesn’t suffer heavily from sloppy painting, which is a problem on other Battat figures like the Ceratosaurus. I might add that it somewhat echoes the coloration of the Jurassic Park Series II Carnotaurus, but is much more natural. The skin is very detailed, with folds in the neck skin reflecting the way the animal’s head is turned, and nice, accurate bumps running laterally in rows along the back and sides. The claws and horns are tan/yellow, the teeth are white and the inside of its open mouth is purple. The teeth are small but are individually sculpted. The eyes are yellow with black pupils and are ringed in red. The amount of detailing of the musculature, particularly in the legs, is astounding. Battat was definitely the name of the game in the 90s. The animal is taking a long stride, possibly hunting, with its mouth open in a growl. The pose is a tripod stance, but the tail is not dragging, with just the tip touching the ground, and this also saved the feet from needing “snowshoes” or being way too oversized like in the 2008 Schleich Allosaurus.
The figures produced by Battat were and still are some of the most accurate out there, and this Carnotaurus is certainly no exception. Everything is proportioned beautifully. I am very critical of Carnotaurus sculpts because it is easily my favorite theropod. The skull is pretty much a flawless work of art, which is much more than can be said for Schleich’s Carnotaurus. The neck, which was unusually long for a theropod, looks great. The miniscule little arms are very accurate, if a little chunky, but I suspect that is from the molding process and to keep them from easily breaking off. The plastic used in some Battats was substantially more brittle than Safari or Schleich. I like how they are held underneath the body, whereas the Carnegie Carnotaurus looks like it wants to hug you. Carnotaurus is one of few theropods which we have great skin impressions of, and they show that the animal’s back and sides were covered in rows of “bumps”, which Battat has faithfully reproduced here. In short, this is the best museum line Carnotaurus ever produced.
This is one of my absolute favorite dinosaur figures. I highly recommend it. Unfortunately it has been retired for over ten years now, so you’d be hard-pressed to find one at a decent price, but if you can, get it. I found mine in the gift shop at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA in the late 90s. It came in a window gift box that displayed information about the animal on the back. Someone needs to revive the Battat line because they were truly fantastic, and are yet to be matched.