The bear-sized pareiasaur Scutosaurus inhabited the semi-arid Late Permian landscape of Russia, likely being common on floodplains and in similar environs which would have supported in relative abundance what plant life could be found in that region 250 million years ago. Scutosaurus was an extremely robust animal reaching up to 8.5 feet in length and its skin was studded with bony scutes (hence the name, which means “shield reptile”) that would have helped to protect it from predators such as the massive Russian gorgonopsid Inostrancevia, with which Scutosaurus coexisted. Though it was not a dinosaur, Scutosaurus evolved a similar, but still primitive, erect limb posture to aid in supporting its heavy mass.
Permian figures, when they do get made, are all almost exclusively reproductions of Dimetrodon (to the point that most people these days think that Dimetrodon is a dinosaur), so when I heard that Safari was releasing a Scutosaurus this year it got my attention. The only other mass-produced Scutosaurus figures I know of are the Starlux version from way back when and the more recent green Lost World action figure, which is actually pretty cool, but not the most accurate. Safari’s figure is superior to them both. It is about 3.25 inches long and 1.5 inches tall, so it’s a very small figure, but is scaled correctly to 1:40. The figure is very, very rough and bumpy because its back and sides are almost completely covered by armor scutes. The colors are very earthy, with most of the body being a drab brown. There is dark brown running along the spine as well as a pair of rusty yellow stripes. This yellow color also runs along its sides. The color of the animal’s sides below the yellow stripes has an almost burnt look which is very eye-catching. The skull also has yellow markings on it. The eyes are very small and black. The figure is in a static pose with the mouth closed, but it looks good.
This is without a doubt the most accurate Scutosaurus currently available. Everything is proportioned almost exactly right. The shape of the animal’s bulky body, with its massive neck and shoulders, is reproduced beautifully. The skull of any extinct animal is always a test for manufacturing companies to get right but Safari nailed it here. The broad plates on either side of its skull are accurate, the chin spikes are not too long, and it has a small horn on its snout like it should. The general broadness of the skull is captured perfectly. These animals were built like tanks and this guy, decked out in so much armor, is no exception. The short, almost stubby tail and short, massive limbs complete the picture and culminate in one of the best figures ever produced for the Wild Safari line.
This is one of my favorite releases of 2009, not only because it’s such a perfect reproduction of Scutosaurus but also for the fact that it can be had for just $4 (US)! I recommend it to any and all collectors!