Review and Photos by Dr Andre Mursch (“Brontodocus”). Edited by Plesiosauria.
Although it was rather uncommon and a good deal smaller than contemporaneous Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus nasicornis is arguably one of the most famous theropod dinosaurs. At its time it was a rather primitive theropod with a four-fingered hand, a deep and heavy tail and a less athletic chest than more advanced theropods had. Ceratosaurus is more recognizable than most other theropods due to some unique characteristics. The large, laterally flattened, nasal horn, the mid-dorsal row of osteoderms, the very deep tail and the peculiarly large upper jaw’s teeth that – at least in juveniles – could even protrude beyond the dentary’s lower margin make Ceratosaurus a truly bizarre, unique theropod.
As one of the Kaiyodo Dinotales this figure is tiny and highly accurate at the same time. Measured in a direct line the figure is a mere 86 mm long (95 mm when measured along the curvature where the vertebral centra would have been) and 38 mm high (41 mm including the base). With a head length of approximately 13 mm this results in a scale between 1/48 to 1/58 (extrapolated from skull lengths of 625 and 765 mm taken from literature).
The figure nicely captures the peculiar anatomical characteristics of Ceratosaurus. The head sculpt is close to perfection, boxy, rextangular, laterally compressed and shows correctly shaped nasal and lachrymal horns. The sculpt definitely took the exact skull anatomy into account, even the complete shape of the maxilla is traceable. It is very pleasing to see a theropod figure with closed mouth that doesn’t run around with gaping jaws all day long. The characteristically large teeth alternate in length and are crisply sculpted. They contribute much to the grotesque appearance of Ceratosaurus.
The neck is not held in a strong s-curve and the ribcage is deep but narrow – just like in ceratosaurs in which the ribcages were slimmer than in more advanced theropods. The tail is also very deep, again one of Ceratosaurus‘ trademarks. The mid-dorsal spine row and the four-fingered (albeit pronated) hands are other characteristics that are nicely captured in this figure. The paint work is extremely gaudy but superbly done. Before I saw the figure in person I only knew small photos of it and did not quite like the paint job – but in reality it is very beautifully detailed even for a Dinotales figure. The light greyish blue back and flanks are contrasting with a line of crimson rhomboidal spots embedded in a broad black stripe with white margin. From here, perpendicular black stripes extend upward and downward. All this results in a bizarre, reticulate pattern. The spine row on the back is crimson, the underside is light tan. The forehead including the nasal and lachrymal horns is yellow, suggesting the head ornamentation being used for (even more) display.
The base deserves a further comment, it is unusually large for a Dinotales figure and the only one that consists of two parts (the tree trunk being an extra part that has to be stuck onto the main base). It is almost like a mini diorama on its own, representing a scene where the Ceratosaurus runs along the shoreline of a pond or lake. It even captures the tremor caused by the running dinosaur resulting in concentric waves.
To sum it up: Despite its diminutive size this is a seriously spectacular, mostly anatomically correct figure. Dinotales figures are generally very good but this one stands out in its design. It is highly recommended for every collector – with the only disadvantage being its rarity, so when it is offered it would normally be quite expensive. However, it is one of those figures that really deserves being hunted for. The figure can be found every now and then on eBay here