Review and photos by Dan Liebman
Having released their premier piece in the form of the “Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops” diorama, Sideshow continues to build on their new Dinosauria product line with this second statue. Choosing the Carnotaurus as a subject matter seems a bit of a surprise, although the species did achieve some level of popular recognition after appearing in Disney’s “Dinosaur” in 2000. Although we know a great deal about the animal’s appearance, the Carnotaurus remains something of a freak among theropod dinosaurs. It possessed a relatively long neck, thin jaw, smallish head, tiny forearms, and forward-facing eyes. The distinctive brow horns are what give the creature its name, which means “flesh-eating bull”.
Interestingly, Sideshow has eschewed the potentially pretentious characteristics of a diorama piece. Instead, the Carnotaurus appears by itself, in what the company refers to as a “maquette” statue. Logistically, this is still a very similar piece. The polystone figure has a sturdy metal peg sticking out the bottom of one foot. This is carefully maneuvered into a hole in the base, which provides all the stability necessary to display a deceptively precarious-looking statue.
This durable design allows the dynamic qualities of the scene to become instantly apparent. The Carnotaurus is posed in a full run, charging forward with jaws agape, powerful legs and massive feet propelling it across a parched, cracked landscape. Sharp-eyed observers will notice a smaller three-toed trackway moving concurrently with the Carnotaur; whether these prints could be from a prey animal remains open to interpretation. A single stray log decorates the earthen base; it is otherwise a monochromatic foundation that keeps the eye appropriately focused on the action at hand.
Naturally, the head of the beast becomes the main focal point, and the artists know this. As such, it is detailed lavishly in knobby osteoderms, bony scutes, and a startling arrangement of genuinely sharp teeth. Both the tongue and the roof of the mouth glisten realistically, while the eyes convey the intangible terror of an ancient predator; something that is not especially intelligent, but doesn’t really need to be.
The notoriously tiny arms of the Carnotaurus point directly toward its posterior. It is hard to say if this animal could comfortably hold its arms in such a position, but given the intensity of the scene, it is likely this aspect was intended to convey the animal’s sudden acceleration. The feet appear appropriately avian, from their leathery texture right down to the dewclaws. While Sideshow’s premier Dinosauria statue seemed to possess a relatively smooth appearance in the feet of the animals, this Carnotaurus is lacking no such detail. Even the toes and ventral surfaces of the animal demonstrate excellent texturing. The toe claws have a slight sheen, impressively simulating the horny sheath that would have formed over the claws in life.
The Carnotaurus sastrei is also one of the few dinosaurs for which fossilized impressions of skin have been discovered. This pebbly surface is visible in many areas of the Carnotaurus maquette, suggesting the artistic team (which included Steve Riojas) has indeed done their homework. The predominantly sandy hue of the animal is complemented by brown patterns across the dorsal surfaces, imitating the “break up” of color that is often seen in ambush predators. One of the more subtle elements of the creature’s palette includes a set of cool colors. Dark blues run down the feet, while the flanks are deeply tinged in green. This further accentuates the primeval characteristics of the Carnotaurus, a massive predator of reptilian lineage that is both believable and beautiful to gaze upon.
Time will tell just how long this reconstruction of the Carnotaurus is considered scientifically accurate. For the time being, there isn’t very much to complain about. It’s the most affordable (and possibly the most impressive) Dinosauria piece Sideshow has to offer so far, and its epic scale lends a total length of 18 inches. Elegant and exciting, this statue will appeal to any serious dinosaur collector willing to shell out the coin for it. From stubby head to spiny tail, this statue is like seeing the Carnotaurus for the very first time.
Available from Amazon.com $169.99