Batrachotomus was a primitive basal rauisuchian, which were a group of crocodile-like archosaurs adapted to a strictly terrestrial lifestyle, and were the dominant predators of the Triassic. Batrachotomus existed around 235 million years ago during the Ladinian Age of the Middle Triassic, and is considered by many paleontologists to be an early form of the more widely recognized rauisuchian genus Postosuchus. Its name means “frog slicer”, since it is believed to have preyed upon the large labyrinthodont amphibians which shared its habitat. Batrachotomus was discovered at Kupferzell in southern Germany in 1977. Rauisuchians evolved an erect limb posture which enabled them to more efficiently chase down prey on land, and this trait would appear again in the Dinosauria through convergent evolution.
There is no debate that dinosaur figures make up the vast majority of prehistoric toys produced, so it is quite refreshing when more obscure groups of animals are represented in figure form. The Bullyland Batrachotomus, released in 2007, is the only replica of this rauischian genus to be produced by any company to date. The figure is roughly 10.5 inches long, 3 inches tall (at the hips) and scaled at 1:20. The prehistoric Homo sapiens figure is from Bullyland’s Evolution of Man line and is also scaled at 1:20, to show the size of Batrachotomus in relation to a human. This figure is clearly meant to be a smaller reproduction of the full-scale Batrachotomus model on display at the Stuttgart Museum in Germany (which sponsors Bullyland’s museum line), sharing a near identical pose, although the coloration of the full-scale is a different dark green shade. The toy figure was produced in two color schemes, one of which resembles more the full-scale with a solid gray-green back and tan belly. This paint scheme seems to be rarer and may even be out of production. The other color scheme, pictured here, is mostly blue-ish gray with red markings and highlights throughout. The figure is made out of a much more rubbery vinyl than other manufacturers such as Safari or Schleich use, but it is high quality and means there is next to no risk of cracked or broken off limbs from a fall off the shelf. The belly is tan and the claws are left unpainted. There is a black double row of scutes with red highlights running along the animal’s spine, and smaller individual scutes running laterally along its sides. The teeth are rather generic and, while individually sculpted, look a bit goofy and are only painted white on their outer-facing side. There are no teeth at the very front of the jaws. The inside of the mouth is pretty plain, with not even a well-defined tongue, and is painted red. Its eyes are yellow with black slit pupils.
I feel that Bullyland did a great job sculpting this prehistoric beast. They managed to make everything quite well proportioned, although I have a few qualms about the skull. The upper jaw seems to curve up a bit much, the whole skull is too short, and the teeth just don’t look right. However the skull is well detailed, with two crests above the eyes and good definition of the underlying bone structure. As land crocodiles, rauisuchians also sported bony scutes all over their body, much as their semi-aquatic cousins do today, and these are faithfully reproduced in this Batrachotomus figure. The feet each have the correct number of digits, which is always a plus and I think it shows attention to detail by the manufacturer, though with the full-scale museum model as their guide, Bullyland really couldn’t have screwed up too much.
I highly recommend this figure both because rauisuchians are an important fossil group which is poorly represented in toy collections and because it is just an impressive piece. As of this review being published, it is still in production and is widely available from a number of online retailers.